I interviewed a personal trainer on the subject and he gave me some great tips on how to build balance and strength to prevent falls and other injuries for people of all ages. I’ll get to that in a moment. But first I want to share a wonderful quote I found while doing a little research on the importance of the balance issue – because of course the thought of balance in my body made me think about balancing my life.
“The key to keeping your balance is knowing when you’ve lost it.” – Anonymous.
Isn’t that the truth? Unlike physical balance, which you can obviously see or experience, such as the ability to stand on one leg, life balance is kind of elusive. You may not know that you have achieved sustainable levels of work-life balance, or whatever you’re looking for, until you have it. And even if you cannot “see” that your life is out of whack, you definitely know because you can feel it in your stomach. It’s that nagging tug or that little voice in your head that pushes you to acknowledge that things are a little bit wrong, so sleep better, bring home less work, schedule an appointment with your therapist, etc.
Loss of life balance (you could also call it life force) can happen slowly and creep up on you. The same goes for your physical balance. You may not realize that you lose the ability to go down a flight of stairs without holding onto the railing until you make a mistake and suffer a fall.
Jon Giese, a personal trainer in Rochester, Minnesota, says balance and strength training are especially important for people over 65 years of age.
“Strength training and balance work are crucial because they contribute to our quality of life, joint support, independence and mental health,” says Giese.
Giese says many back, shoulder, and neck injuries happen when people do simple daily tasks, such as picking up a napkin from the floor, reaching up to put something on a top shelf, or even leaning forward, to brush your teeth.
“If you lean forward only 30 degrees to brush your teeth, you are putting about four times your body weight on your lower back,” says Giese. “Or if you’re not used to reaching up, like putting a five-pound bag of sugar on a shelf, you could injure your lower back or shoulders, or both, trying to do this.”
Giese says that strength and balance training can prevent pain, strains and injuries. And it doesn’t take a lot of effort to see results. Of course, you should consult your doctor before starting any exercise program, but even 10 to 15 minutes a day can make a world of difference. Some of the strength and balance exercises Giese teaches his clients are standing on one leg, standing up and sitting down in a chair with no hand support, and the use of exercise bands. He adds that learning these exercises with good posture and technique also helps prevent injury.
It’s pretty obvious how strength and balance training can help improve your physical health and your ability to do things. But how does it benefit mental health? Giese says that when you are able to function independently, your confidence increases. It strengthens.
Next week, on one of my upcoming podcasts, you can watch and / or hear Giese share simple and useful tips on improving balance and other mind-body issues.
Vivien Williams is a video content producer for NewsMD and host of Health Fusion. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.